Yesterday, I received a phone call from Toshiba Customer Relations regarding my laptop’s demise. For those of you that don’t know the story so far, feel free to go back and read by clicking on the link. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

It did not take two business days like she promised me. It took two weeks! That’s right. From the Tuesday two weeks ago, when I first called it in, until this Monday, I was waiting for “Corporate” to get off their asses and do something about their faulty equipment.

TWO WEEKS.

I’ve worked in this industry for nearly fourteen years, which seven of them in technical support. Five of them with a major whole systems manufacturer. Never in those years have I ever waited more than six hours to get a new system out to an in-warranty customer. NEVER. If someone pays the extra expense to cover your piece-of-shit laptop, then I think the least you can do is… I don’t know… live up to it?!

2875I had to call them and keep calling them every other day because they promised to call me back and hardly ever did. The person I was speaking to about the situation kept apologizing for the delay. She kept telling me that they don’t have any authority to ship out a new laptop, only to replace ones still being manufactured. But since they discontinued my model of laptop, that was pretty much out of the question. I was pretty upset by the time it was a full week (seven days) of waiting for “Corporate” to do something about it. I could care less whether or not it was unusual that they were taking so long, lady, how about lighting a fire under their asses and getting into gear? She was commenting on it rather than actually doing something about it.

When I insisted they get someone on the phone over at Corporate, she told me, “Oh, we only communicate by email. So I will send them another email.” I asked, “Don’t you guys have some sort of SLA? At what point do we graduate from email to phone?”

For the uninitiated, an SLA is a Service Level Agreement. Usually, an SLA determines how much time must pass for an issue to be escalated to the next highest authority. In technical support, it would mean that a ticket moves up in priority from one grade to the next. Each grade of priority gets a different kind of response. So a low-priority ticket might have something like a 3 business day response. If after that, nothing happens, then it gets bumped up to a higher level, which involves more people working on the problem. Eventually, you get high enough to involve directors, for whom it looks really bad to have a low-priority ticket move up to a high-priority ticket through inaction.

When I was working technical support for Acer America, we had the ability to ship anything we wanted, so long as our manager signed off on it. And I had awesome managers while I was working there. If I decided that a PRI1 (which was a high-priority laptop ship) was warranted, I would say 99.99% of the time, I would get an approval for it. I was damned good at my job, and I have a lot of pride in the fact that I serviced more than my fair share of calls in that support center. I won three customer service awards from that place every year I worked there. And folks, this is a place that does not hand out awards without some serious documentation to back it up.

But no… Toshiba apparently has no SLA with the customer. Which is total crap. So, she asked me if there was anything else she could do for me and I was blunt. I told her, “You’ve got me pretty much by the short and curlies, here, lady. Unless you can magically make a replacement laptop appear out of thin air, then this phone call is done. Thanks for wasting my time.”

Some of you might be thinking… wow, that’s pretty harsh. Then again, some of you may not be used to working behind the scenes like I have. Waiting more than a day was absurd, so by the time we were into the second week, I was livid. This chick started calling me, because I would call her center up and bitch out whoever answered the phone. And the conversations were always the same: “Oh, I see that you are working with <name>. Let me see if she’s available.” They could not transfer my ass fast enough, especially after I would launch into a tirade when they told me, “Oh, it looks like there’s no new information in this ticket.”

No new information means nothing got done, and now I have to wait longer to get an answer that should have been provided within the original two business days I was promised. So, when they transfer me over to her, she tells me that she understands why I’m so upset and I tell her, “Listen… I’ve worked your job before and when a customer tells me that he’s been waiting beyond the expectation that you set, then your own professional word is on the line. If I were you, I would use every available avenue of communication to whomever is in charge to tell them that your own word had been broken in this arrangement. And if they don’t care about that, then it’s time to find a job at a place where that kind of thing actually has some value.”

There was a lot of silence after that. She said, “Okay, well, sir, I appreciate your frustration, but there’s nothing more I can do.” To which I responded, “You mean, there’s nothing more you’re willing to do. Suffice to say, this is the last time I buy Toshiba.” And I hung up without further comment, because all I was doing was wasting my time. It was apparent to me that she didn’t give two shits about the fact that she broke her word to me. All part of the cost of doing business, and maybe that’s just one the many problems that corporations deal with in their image with the people who buy their products. A fact of which is a conversation I seemed to have every time I got off the phone with them, because invariably, someone in the office would hear me go twelve rounds with Toshiba on a semi-daily basis. (Yes, it was during my break.)

I waited another full week until I finally got a phone call back from them. At this point, I was just tired of the bullshit and the back-and-forth. And calling them up wasn’t doing anything more than just getting my blood pressure up, so I was pretty much stuck with sitting around with a giant paperweight, hoping that eventually someone at Toshiba Corporate would figure out a proper answer to the whole mess. When they called, all she told me was that they finally authorized an RMA for it, but she couldn’t tell me what they were replacing my unit with. Well, that was, once again, unacceptable. I sure as hell wasn’t going to give up my laptop unless I knew what I was getting in return.

“Oh, well, sir, then I guess we will have to wait another week to find that out.”

… “Whatever.”

T10481721Luckily, it did not take another week, because last night I got the phone call from them. They’re sending me out a Toshiba Qosmio G25-AV513.  All I have to do is accept their “generous” offer (I shit you not, that’s what she told me) and then send them the faulty laptop back and they would ship out the new one.  Again, this is one of those things that pisses me off.  Of course, this point is kind of moot since the laptop isn’t even booting at this point, but when you ship out mobile devices, you generally ship out the replacement device first to allow the customer an opportunity to transfer data.  In this case, there was no such opportunity, and I wanted the chance to see if this new laptop had the ability to do what I needed it to do.  But no, there would be no such honeymoon period for me, so now I have to ship back the paperweight and then wait until two weeks for them to ship me out the new one.

The specs on the website make the G25 superior to the P25 in some regards.  Overall, I should be pleased since I’m getting a bump in ram and hard drive space.  But I just wish that the cost had not been my brand loyalty.  Isn’t it funny how quickly we turn antagonistic toward a corporate brand after just one bad experience?  I was willing to give them every benefit of the doubt up until the long wait in getting a simple response from “Corporate.”  And by the way, knowing full well that this went all the way to the tippy top of the corporation and it still got back-burned for two weeks only solidifies my hostility toward anything Toshiba.

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